Historic milestone

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

The CFL reached an historic milestone yesterday in a Montreal hotel ballroom.

"That's the probably the first time in the league that we've had accountants and football guys in the same room," Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Brendan Taman said last night from Montreal. "So that's a good start."

Taman's quip aside, yesterday's session was noteworthy for the fact that the three-down loop is trying to implement an enforceable salary cap for the first time this season.

The meeting, led by the CFL salary cap police, was a refresher course for each team's management. The other Bombers in the room were director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson and director of finance and administration Jim Bell.

"It was pretty educational," Taman said. "The league did a good job presenting just the landscape of how it's going to work. It sort of opened our eyes to a few things, so it was good."

Taman left the meeting feeling somewhat optimistic about the cap levelling the CFL playing field.

"It was well done, and if everybody buys into it it's going to work," he said. "It'll be challenging, but it's going to work.

"... Compliance and disclosure by all eight teams are the key elements of this whole thing working. And I emphasize all eight teams."

The CFL prepared a handbook for each team, complete with a checklist for GMs to use as they wade into this foreign world of fiscal responsibility. Teams were also told that Trevor Hardy, the league's director of salary expenditure reporting, would be visiting all eight cities three times each this season.

Teams will also be required to submit detailed reports about their spending three times over the 20-week schedule.

While the 2007 is being hailed as a new era in the CFL, 2008 will be the true start of the salary cap age. Because of the wild bonus spending in November that went on the 2006 books, 2007 salaries are likely to be out of whack. For example, a player who would normally earn $200,000 is going to have only $100,000 count against the cap.

That means the 2008 season is when players will have to accept their true worth in the CFL's new salary cap era. Therefore, you can expect to see more big-name players released or taking pay cuts next winter as a result.

Taman insists, however, that he is still operating on a $4.05-million budget, including the $500,000 or so he spent in bonuses just before the Grey Cup. He said the Bombers paid out those bonuses to give themselves wiggle room at the end of the coming season.

Considering everything from plane tickets for players' wives, game tickets, hotel bill, shoes, gloves, socks, performance bonuses and public appearance payments will count against the cap, every penny will matter.

"It's going to be very strategic and very, very interesting," Taman said.

PERFECT PAYROLL

The CFL's new salary cap isn't as cut and dried as the team's salaries. Anything from performance bonuses to plane tickets to car allowances could cause a team to soar past the $4.05-million cap.

However, for argument's sake, here's a hypothetical, 57-man payroll that adds up to exactly $4.05 million. Considering only 46 players (plus the injured) receive their full salary for each game and the others get about $500 a week on the practice roster, teams would likely still have the ability to stay under the cap with this salary structure, despite the myriad of other expenses incurred throughout the season.

So here's how the breakdown might look under the new salary management system, based on past discussions with those in the know. We'll leave it to you to play GM and determine which players from your favourite team deserve to go where:

1 x $220,000

1 x $200,000

1 x $180,000

1 x $175,000

1 x $170,000

1 x $140,000

1 x $120,000

1 x $110,000

1 x $100,000

1 x $90,000

1 x $85,000

2 x $80,000

1 x $75,000

3 x $70,000

5 x $65,000

6 x $60,000

2 x $55,000

12 x $50,000

5 x $45,000

7 x $40,000

1 x $39,000

2 x $38,000

----------------

$4,050,000


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